The Evolution & Future Of Social TV [Interview]

Earlier this month, Beet.TV posted an interview with Alan Wolk, Global Lead Analyst at KIT Digital, about KIT’s new white label social electronic program guide.  In the interview, Alan talks about how the current social TV apps out there are limited in scope because they work independently and do just one or two things (i.e. check-in, chat, etc.).  He hints at a future in which the different functionalities of these apps will be rolled up into one and working off of the electronic program guide (EPG) on our TV screens.  KIT Digital is positioned to be at the forefront of this evolution.

After watching Alan Wolk’s Beet.TV interview I had a few questions for him myself—both about KIT Digital’s new social electronic program guide and about the future of social TV.  Check out the video interview below and then read on for his answers to my questions.

I asked Alan whether KIT Digital’s white label platform was already available.  He told me that they “will be making some big announcements at NAB, but Cosmos, our platform for building white label apps is up and running.”

Alan went into a bit more detail about the features offered.  He told me, “The main product is a social EPG – we feel that all of the ‘social TV’ apps lack one critical piece of functionality: the ability to change the channel.  They also don’t integrate with each other – the chat app is different than the check-in app is different than the recommendation app – it’s all too much work for the consumer.  Tying everything together into a single product that functions as the main EPG is the obvious progression.”

I asked how KIT Digital’s offering differs from that of other social apps, for example how it differs from the partnership that GetGlue and DirecTV entered into back in September.  Alan says, “We are not aware of anyone else offering this type of product.  The difference with GetGlue/DirecTV is that GetGlue is still a separate app – it’s not baked into the main TV experience.  And it relies on users and their friends being members of GetGlue.  GetGlue can push information out to the social web, but it can’t pull it in unless you are a GetGlue member too.  Our product allows users to tap into all their existing social networks.”

Finally, I asked Alan if he could provide a little insight about what he thinks the future holds for Social TV.  He said, “Rather than function as a series of separate islands of functionality, social TV apps will continue to merge and roll up.  Network operators will have the choice of using a white label app or licensing whatever app maker manages to collect the broadest range of functionality.”

“As a consumer behavior, social TV will continue to be most useful during the decision-making phase when users are looking for something to watch and find the opinions of their friends and family (and critics) to be helpful.  Chatting during the show or looking up stats about the actors, etc., will remain a secondary use-case: if someone is going to multi-task, they’re going to want to check email or the weather or something else unrelated to the show they are watching – second screen content that limits what a user can do online is only going to seem like an extra step.”

For more insight, check out our post on 3 Social TV CEOs On The Future Of Social Television.  Want to weight in with your predictions for the future of Social TV?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Image credit: cybrain via Shutterstock

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.

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